Archives For Tim Keller

Great insights from Tim Keller on how College Ministry is the best way to equip leaders who will impact our nation, from a post on

Keller paints a bleak picture of where America is as a culture: “This is an unprecedented time in human history…What’s new is the breadth of conviction that there is no such thing as truth. There have never been whole societies built on that idea. Never.”

“Everyone knows that younger people are far less religious than the generation before … and despite all the things that we’ve been doing for the last 30 years, we’re losing them.”

According to Keller, if you’re on a college campus, you’re on the culture’s cutting edge. It is, he says, our best leadership development pipeline. By exposing people to the cutting edge of culture where they have to deal with the modern mindset, where they have to deal with non-Christians — that, in Keller’s opinion, is the best way to develop pastors and lay leaders.

Read the whole article here – worth the read for Keller’s insights on where our culture is headed and what we need to do about it.

HT: @stephenlutz

every good endeavorTim Keller’s Every Good Endeavor has been on my nightstand to-read stack since it came out.

Enter Andrew Wise with this handy Executive Summary. Andrew just graduated from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and was an intern with us with Cru for two years. His professional opinion on the book:

“this should be required reading for every college freshman/sophomore”

While I still plan to read the book…in the meantime this is a helpful, well organized overview of the book, chapter by chapter.

Some highlights:

“Our work can only be a calling if it is reimagined as a mission of service to something beyond merely our own interests”

If this life is all there is… everyone will be forgotten, nothing we do will make any difference, and all good endeavors, even the best, will come to naught…Unless there is God. If the God of the Bible exists, and there is a True Reality beneath this one, and this life is not the only life, then every good endeavor, even the simplest ones, pursued in response to God’s calling, can matter forever.

Without meaningful work we sense significant loss and emptiness…Work is one of the ways we make ourselves useful to others and discover our identities.

Work of all kinds, whether with hands or minds, evidences our dignity as human beings because it reflects the image of God the Creator in us.

Choosing Work: “How, with my existing abilities and opportunities, can I be of greatest service to other people, knowing what I do of God’s will and human need.

Since we already have in Christ the things other people work for, salvation, self-worth, a good conscience, and peace – now we may work simply to love God and our neighbors.

If you have to choose between work that benefits more people and work that pays you more, you should seriously consider the job that pays less and helps more – particularly if you can be great at it.

All work is objectively valuable, but it will not be subjectively fulfilling unless you see it as a calling to love your neighbor.

Today young people are seeking to define themselves by the status of their work. It is a major identity marker.

    • Many college students do not choose work that actually fits their abilities, talents, and capacities, but rather choose work that fits within their limited imagination of how they can boost their own self-image.
    • Three kinds of jobs they see – those that pay well, those that directly serve society’s needs, and the cool factor.
    • Results in students choosing work that doesn’t fit them or fields too competitive for them. Sets them up for dissatisfaction / meaninglessness.

If we have the luxury of options, we should choose work that we can do well – what’s something you can excel at?

Some great thoughts from Tim Keller on Evangelism in this video.

Some highlights:

  • If you strictly do Evangelism, the outside world sees it as recruitment, increasing your tribe, a power grab
  • You need to combine Word and Deed.
  • The best way to combine Evangelism and Good Deeds is on a personal level (more difficult to do on a organizational level)
    • You’re not going to love a friend without sharing the Gospel with them. And as a friend you will serve them as there is a need
  • Keller’s two steps for setting up Evangelism:
    1. Let the other person know you go to church
    2. Let the other person know that your Christian faith means something to you, even in passing: “my Christian faith has really helped me here…”
      • There are a lot of simple behaviors that you should be doing, that will lead in a very organic way into deeper spiritual discussion
      • You should be doing the simple behaviors first:
        • Loving and caring for people
        • Being a person of integrity
        • Letting people know that your Christian faith
      • And it will just bubble up naturally
      • I think most people think, I have to find out a way to get the whole gospel out in one conversation or get in a debate about Creation and Evolution. That’s not the way to go. Be simple.
  • He goes on to talk about how sharing the gospel in the city is more complex and requires more skill.

HT: @hanskristensen


Sharing Sermons

January 23, 2012 — Leave a comment

You know me. I like sharing.

One thing I wish people would share more of is what sermons they’ve listened to recently that they enjoyed.


So in the spirit of the Golden Rule . . .

Here are some sermons I’ve listened to recently that I loved. I’m talking mind-blowing.

Leave a comment and share with all of us what great sermons you’ve listened to recently.

Ranked in order of awesomeness:

Beau Hughes – Learning Contentment (click to go to download/read the transcript – also available in The Village Podcast feed)

Skipped right over this on the Village podcast because, well, it wasn’t Matt Chandler. And Beau is definitely not Matt Chandler. In style, probably his polar opposite. Kind of like Keller (at least in this sermon), somehow enthralling despite its dry delivery.

  • I think it’s good for us to be sobered by how horrible our discontentment is. It’s not just a respectable sin that we can deal with here and there.
  • Contentment= Our highest ambition is to be the Lord’s and to be at His disposal
  • The first sin in the Bible is mankind being discontent with the blessings of God.
  • Discontentment erodes worship, rejects ministry and hinders joyful obedience.
  • It’s really hard to follow someone that you don’t trust, and it’s even harder to follow someone with whom you are angry. So discontentment is not the soil that joyful obedience grows in. Do you think you’re going to be obedient to God when you’re frustrated with Him and you don’t trust Him?


Tim Keller – Marriage as Commitment (click to go to podcast in iTunes)

So good (and I assume he unpacks a lot of this in his book that is still sitting on my night stand waiting to be read)

  • Marriage is a commitment first, and a feeling second
  • Marriage requires the ability to hear criticism without being crushed
  • The ability to give criticism without crushing
  • God takes your selfishness in marriage and uses it against you for your own good
  • You finally have to come to grips with your sin/selfishness because its ruining your life in your marriage. For the first time in your life, you can’t run


Matt Chandler – A Call to Pray (click to go to download/read the transcript – also available in The Village Podcast feed)

This is how to give a talk on prayer

  • The main issue in our prayerlessness is we have a problem believing and grasping that God likes us, enjoys us and delights in us.
  • “Do you think God delights in, rejoices in and enjoys you right now?”
  • I do not think that you struggle with believing that God likes you ten years from now. Because you ten years from now is awesome.
  • “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy laden.”
  • You’ve got to hear this invitation as it relates to prayer. Because the invitation isn’t, “Start doing what’s right.” The invitation is, “Come to Me. You’re not doing what’s right.” So the solution to what ails us, what weighs heavy on us and what exhausts us is not us trying harder at overcoming those things, but it’s rather us coming to Jesus, walking with Jesus, being in a relationship with Jesus that overpowers our affection for the struggle.
  • It’s, “Come to Me. Are you a train wreck? Come here. Are you broken? Are you stuck in lust? Are you stuck in anger? Are you stuck in fear? Get over here!”


Tim Keller – The Story of the Lamb  (click to go to podcast in iTunes)

Keller helps us “Behold the lamb of God” through unpacking one of THE dominant threads of the Bible.

Brilliant in making clear (even to a secular mind) the need for substitutionary atonement.


Tim Keller – God With Us (click to go to podcast in iTunes)

A Christmas message that matters all year long. Tim Keller takes a sometimes trite phrase “God with us” and makes it come alive. Why “God with us” should excite and transform us.


Share the wealth – what great sermons have you listened to recently?


I started this blog because, as Russ Martin said in Tithing your Time Online: “By spending five minutes to upload the presentation from your last small group leader training you could save someone hours”.

It’s one of the primary reasons I read so many blogs – to quickly glean from others and use their thoughts for Cru talks, Bible studies, and staff coaching. I feel that it multiplies my time (requiring a lot less prep/admin time so I can spend more time with staff and students).

So hopefully this will help you save some time. Here’s a few things I’m using in my Bible study the coming weeks:

“Repentance is THE way we make progress in the Christian life. Indeed, pervasive, all-of-life-repentance is the best sign that we are growing deeply and rapidly into the character of Jesus.”

  • I’m also using this question from Tim Norman in Bible Study today: “Why do you think it’s important to read the Bible?” followed by his Devil’s Advocate questions and study of 2 Timothy 3:16–17 he lays out in his post (he just started blogging – you should definitely subscribe! And not just cause he’s my boss).
  • For the next five weeks in our Bible study, we will be reading through a chapter a week from Fight Clubs. I’ll have them read through the chapter during the week and then discuss and apply during Bible study. The “Bible” part of our Bible Study discussion will come from digging deeper into the various passages in each chapter. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like this e-book is free anymore. You can preview the intro and 1st chapter here. Or buy it here.

What we fight for: “All else that is good and beautiful flows from him, but our thoughts don’t naturally drift to Christ. This is precisely why we need to fight.”

Why accountability groups fail in this fight: “We need to remove accountability [groups] from the center and replace it with the Gospel. We need to orbit around Jesus, not rules or confession. Instead of groups gathered around accountability, we must gather around Jesus. Only then will we find something truly worth fighting for.”

What are you using right now for BIble Study and Discipleship?

“Every culture hostile to Christianity holds to a set of ‘common-sense’ consensus beliefs that automatically make Christianity seem implausible to people.” – Tim Keller

I’ve been working on new material for an Apologetics training class I’m teaching and came across this great article from Tim Keller that deals with Defeater Beliefs (that his book Reason for God deals extensively with).  Defeater Beliefs are commonly held ideas that make it impossible for someone to believe.

According to Keller, since most people hold to these Defeater Beliefs, there must be 2 parts to evangelism

  1. “The more negative aspect has to do with ‘apologetics’ – it consists in deconstructing the culture’s implausibility structure.
  2. The more positive aspect of sharing the gospel is to connect the story of Jesus to the base-line cultural narratives.”

But here’s what I thought was particularly helpful:

You can’t just immediately 1) Do apologetics or 2) Present the gospel

  • “If you try to do apologetics before you pull off a quick, attractive presentation of Christ, people’s eyes will glaze over and they will become bored.
  • But if you try to do a very lengthy explanation of the meaning of Christ’s cross and resurrection before you convincingly deal with the defeaters, they won’t listen to you either”

Keller explains there has to be a relationship where you have a Sandwich of 3 Layers:

  1. “Brief gospel summary. First, the gospel must be presented briefly but so vividly and attractively (and so hooked into the culture’s base-line cultural narratives) that the listener is virtually compelled to say “It would be wonderful if that were true, but it can’t be!” Until he or she comes to that position, you can’t work on the implausibility structure! The listener must have motivation to hear you out. That is what defeaters do – they make people super-impatient with any case for Christianity. Unless they find a presentation of Christ surprisingly attractive and compelling (and stereo-type breaking) their eyes will simply glaze over when you try to talk to them.
  2. Dismantle plausibility structure. Alvin Plantinga wisely asserts that people avoid Christianity not because they have really examined its teachings and found them wanting, but because their culture gives huge plausibility (by the media, through art, through the expertise and impressive credentials of its spokespersons) to believe a series of defeater beliefs that they know are true, and since they are true, Christianity can’t be.
  3. Longer explanation of the person and work of Christ. Now, if people find you have at least undermined the defeaters in a listener’s mind, you can now return to talking at greater length about creation, fall, redemption, and restoration.”

I highly encourage reading the full article.

Sex and Dating Talks

October 12, 2010 — 3 Comments

“Not only is God pro-sex, he explicitly uses sexual union
as a metaphor for a believer’s union with God.

In a very daring way, the Bible says that sex was God’s invention,

to give us a sign of the Union that he built us for”

(paraphrase of Tim Keller)

I wish I could speak on Sex/Dating every week at Cru!  Such a critical topic for college students.  My prayer is that hundreds of future marriages will be affected as men and women learn to honor God in dating.

This month I gave two talks on sex/dating.  I got great feedback on both of them (though the Dating talk solicited more) and wanted to pass them along to hopefully save you some prep time in the future.  Feel free to use them for whatever purpose you need.

Today I’ll summarize and give downloadable notes/powerpoint from the Sex talk.
Tomorrow, the Dating Talk.

**Be sure to check out the phenomenal Matt Chandler clip at the bottom.  Amazingly good.**

Sex –

  • Main Idea= Sex is the #1 reason students don’t want anything to do with God in college.

From the book Souls in Transition: “One of the reasons why many emerging adults may want to distance themselves from religion is that religion in their minds conflicts with [their] lifestyle options.  Most of them want to party, to hook up and to have sex”

Major Premise – Serious religion says sex is bad

Minor Premise – I want to party and have sex

Conclusion – I am not interested in serious religion

  • But ironically Sex/Desire is one of the greatest proofs that there is a God.  The “inconsolable longing” is what brought CS Lewis to Christ.
  • Most college students would say:

“For right now I want to get a lot of that stuff out of my system, like messing around with girls and stuff, or partying.  You know, Get all that stuff out of your system before you get married.  Once you get married, you won’t be able to do all that stuff.”

  • The problem = that stuff doesn’t get out of your system.  Jesus says that “stuff”/sexual desire is internal and is a raging fire that will consumer your life
  • It’s not a switch you can turn off once you “Settle down”
  • This talk borrows heavily from Tim Keller’s two sermons (especially the former): Love, Lust and Liberation and Singleness
  • Some of the talk is verbatim from TIm Keller’s talk.  I type up many of my notes verbatim and then use them as jumping off points when I speak – using the ideas but putting them in my own words

I ended the talk with this powerful clip from Matt Chandler where he tells the story of a pastor who passed around a rose that represented someone’s sexuality – and as it’s “passed around” and “handled” by everyone – it comes back to the front it’s used and broken.  One girl e-mailed me after the talk: “I broke down in tears when the clip ‘Jesus Wants the Rose’ was played and I have watched it over and over again in my dorm room.”

Here’s my notes.

For the powerpoint slides backdrops, I used the incredible (and free!) artwork from Southeast Christian Church. Here’s my slides.

photo courtesy of steeljam

Monday Rundown

August 1, 2010 — 5 Comments

To get your creative juices flowing and distract you from your actually working, some interesting links:

  • A ridiculous/interesting article chastising Tim Tebow for “blowing” his entire $2.5 million signing bonus on donations to charities (what a great imitation of our Prodigal God; prodigal= recklessly extravagant).
  • He’s so adept at handling the media’s bewilderment at his “strange” values (remember the “are you a virgin” episode?)
  • From an admitted non-Christian: “we need to be celebrating Tebow for exhibiting that much backbone under such heavy public scrutiny”
  • Love how he uses humor to defuse the situation (with the comment about hookers) as he did with the virgin question:
  • “I think you’re stunned right now,” Tebow joked with reporters after revealing his virginity. “You can’t even ask a question. … I was ready for that question, but I don’t think ya’ll were.”

  • Great short (4 minute) video by Andy Stanley on Leadership (emailed to me by my friend, Chris, who needs to start blogging. Yes, since I’ve started blogging I’ve become a blogging bully. But a bully with a great cause – read this for encouragement on why you should share the wealth via a blog instead of emailing):
  • First Myth: Great leaders are good at everything
  • Second myth: we should focus on our weaknesses rather than maximizing our strengths

  • Brian Barela details on his blog how Guy Chmieleski is bringing 20 college ministry bloggers together in 1 place on Tuesday

  • If you work with young people – high school or college (or have kids) you have to start reading Tim Elmore’s blog (I know many of you already do). Though I’ve received his e-mails for years (and have some of his books) I just checked out his blog for the first time this weekend. Incredible insights. This post in particular is good.
  • Great quote from it: This generation of students are “upload kids forced to attend download schools”

  • Another great resource for college ministers that some of you may have missed: Subscribe to the monthly emails from Ivy Jungle. Great bullet point news items that relates to college students and college ministry.